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Chapter V

Summary and Conclusion


5.0 Introduction

This final chapter of the dissertation begins with a recap of the background and the methodology of the study. It then summarises the salient findings, discusses certain implications, identifies some of the limitations and concludes with indicating avenues for further research.

5.1 Portents of the study: Recapitulation

Interpersonal behaviour is a fact of life and it forms the core of human transactions everywhere. The job of management today is recognised, more than ever before, to be inextricably connected with managing human transactions. On the basis of ample empirical evidence, management scholars such as Mintzberg (1975), Kotter (1982), Stewart (1982) and others have, beyond any doubt, established the importance of interpersonal behaviour in the managerial world.

The Hawthorne studies of the 1920s and several others since then (e.g., Weick, 1969; Zalenzik, 1977; Liden and Graen, 1980; Bohra and Pandey, 1984; Wayne and Ferris, 1990; Mintzberg and Quinn, 1991; Pestonjee, 1992) have investigated the connection between interpersonal relations in formal organisations and organisational performance. According to these studies, interpersonal relations have an undeniable impact on managerial effectiveness.

The utility of their findings notwithstanding, these studies were found to fall short of peering directly into the domain of interpersonal relation itself. A survey of the theoretical literature on the topic located the theory of Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation (FIRO), which provided a comprehensive conceptual framework that could guide a systematic investigation of the phenomenon of interpersonal relations, directly. A search for empirical studies on FIRO revealed that there were only two Indian studies, which, besides being too few, were too limited in their scope, both theoretical and empirical: they followed the framework given by the outdated version of the theory, addressed populations that were not typically managerial, and their samples were too small.

Having taken cognizance of the significance of interpersonal behaviour in the manager's job and having noted the virtual absence of empirical studies on the subject, the present study undertook to initiate an exploration of the managerial interpersonal needs in the Indian cooperative dairy sector, using the framework of the revised FIRO theory.

5.2 Method of Study

The study was planned as an exploratory one, intended to map the existing interpersonal orientations of the target population. A survey-based, cross-sectional research design was adopted for the purpose. The sample for the managerial group was randomly drawn from 45 cooperative dairy unions from 13 Indian states. The would-be managers were represented by the students of IRMA (Institute of Rural Management, Anand). Data were collected by means of a FIRO-derived instrument. Meticulous attention was paid to ensure sensitivity in the procedure so that rapport and confidentiality were achieved during collection of data.

Data were collected in terms of how the respondents behaved toward others (Perceived-Expressed), how others behaved towards them (Perceived-Received), how the respondents wanted their behaviour toward others to be (Wanted-Expressed), and how they wanted other people to behave towards them (Wanted-Received), on each of the three fundamental interpersonal behaviour areas of Inclusion, Control, and Openness.

Descriptive statistics were employed for constructing overall profiles of managers and management students with regard to their respective interpersonal needs. To examine the inter-relationships among the FIRO variables, Pearson's correlation coefficients were computed. Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was used to elicit intergroup variations among sub-groups of managers and students. Finally, a Multiple Discriminant Analysis (MDA) was performed to identify the FIRO variables that discriminated the managers and students as well as some sub-groups within each category.

5.3 Major Findings

The current scenario of interpersonal behaviour in the Indian cooperative dairy sector is characterised most by the need for Inclusion, followed by the need for Control and least by the need for Openness. The managers' desire to engage in these three dimensions of interpersonal behaviour also shows the same order of preference, indicating that the interpersonal profile of these managers resembles what McClelland (1975) calls the affiliative manager. The striking prominence of their perceived-expressed inclusion behaviour indicates that these managers are engaged in a fairly high degree of initiating social behaviour with others. With regard to Control, these managers seem to exercise it only to a medium level as of now, but want to raise it to a significantly higher level. As for Openness, a great majority of the managers are not very open in their interpersonal relationships.

The older managers (above 35 years of age) take more initiative at socialising and also have greater impact on others than younger managers, as indicated by the ANOVA results as well as by the positive correlation of managers' age with their PEI (perceived-expressed inclusion) and PEC (perceived-expressed control). Interestingly, the PRC (perceived-received control) and WRC (wanted-received control) of the managers show a high and positive correlation, suggesting that an adaptation of sorts to the prevailing levels of control might be taking place. The observed lack of correlation between the managers' PEC and PRC suggests that the managers exercise control irrespective of the extent of control they are subject to. This, in turn, suggests that expressed and received controls are not necessarily opposites, and that the two could coexist independent of each other. The positive correlation between their PEC and PEO indicates that the more open the managers are, the more impact they seem to have on their colleagues.

Significant differences have been observed in the interpersonal orientations of managers of different departments. While managers across all the four departments in the study want a fairly high degree of Inclusion (WEI and WRI), actual socialising (PEI and PRI) is engaged in at present more by managers of the Marketing and Procurement & Inputs departments than by managers of the Production or Quality Control department. The production managers and the quality control managers also come off as less open in their interpersonal interactions. The production and the marketing managers seem to dislike received Control, while the P&I managers want a greater degree of it.

The FIRO-weak managers (those with a low total score, indicating a low interpersonal orientation) were found to rate themselves lowest on WRI and PEC, and highest in WEI, followed by PRC. This suggests that managers who are very low on interpersonal behaviour want to include people, but they do not receive commensurate inclusion from others. These managers seem to readily submit themselves to control by others (high PRC), probably as a means of achieving their desire to include people in a non-assertive way, characterised by actual submission of self for fear of rejection.

Successful managers scored significantly higher on PEC and WEC than did unsuccessful managers. The PEC and the WEC scores of the former were significantly higher than their PEI and WEI scores, whereas the PEI score of the unsuccessful managers was significantly higher than their PEC score. These results mean that the successful managers in the sample do actually exert, and want to exert, more Control than the unsuccessful managers do or want. Additionally, Control is higher than Inclusion among the successful managers, while the reverse appears to be the case among the unsuccessful managers. This finding corroborates McClelland's (1976) finding that successful managers score higher than unsuccessful ones on their need for Power and that successful managers' need for power is higher than their need for affiliation.

In addition to corroborating McClelland's findings, the present study has identified a set of six interpersonal variables which discriminate the successful managers from the unsuccessful ones. They are: PEI, PEC, PRC, WEC, WEO and WRO. Over and above their differences on PEI, PEC and WEC, already discussed in the preceding paragraph, the successful managers seem to accept moderate control from others, as against greater submission of unsuccessful managers to others' control. They are also ready to disclose more and want to receive more disclosures from others than unsuccessful managers want to. The openness or disclosures that the successful managers in the sample seem to have received from others is also more (p<.05) than what the unsuccessful managers seem to have done.

The negative correlation between the PEC and PRC of the students indicates that the more subjected the students are to control from others, the less control they seem to exercise on others. That is to say, the less they are in control, the more they are under control. Older students are more willing to receive directions from others than are younger students, as indicated by their age-related WRC scores. Academic background (in terms of the subject areas pursued, such as Arts, Commerce, Engineering, Science, etc.) is not associated with the interpersonal orientations of the students (or the managers).

Gender differences have been noted in some aspects of interpersonal orientations. While the male and the female students do not differ in their actual expressed behaviour of inclusion and openness, the males show a significantly greater need to be more outgoing (WEI) than the females. Although both, the male and the female students, desire a high level of openness from others (WRO), the females want to have significantly more of it than the males; they seem to also receive more openness from others (PRO) than the males seem to do. As for received Control, the female students show a distinct dislike for it more than the male students.

The FIRO-weak students seemed to be most concerned with their received Openness and received Control and least concerned with the dimension of Inclusion, indicating extreme choosiness. The FIRO-high students are high on all the interpersonal aspects, except for received Control (PRC and WRC). All the students seem to presently receive a moderate-to-high degree of Control from others and all of them would equally like to be rid of it. Unlike the case of the managers, the students' interpersonal orientations show little association either with their performance (academic) or the geographical region they come from.

Overall FIRO compatibility was found to be associated with satisfaction of members working in a group, but not with the performance of the group. Specific compatibility on the Openness dimension, however, seemed to influence group performance: groups which had higher compatibility on Openness performed significantly better than those which had lower compatibility on that particular FIRO dimension.

5.4 Implications

Given the importance of interpersonal relations in managerial work, the findings of the present study have important implications, some of which are discussed in the following paragraphs.

A major finding of the study, as may be recalled, is that the interpersonal behaviour of the managers in the Indian cooperative dairy sector is predominantly Inclusion-oriented, with a halfway Control orientation and a low Openness orientation. How does this finding augur for the management of the sector?

In a study of the managerial attributes prevailing in the sector, Arul (1989) found that social skills ranked top of the list of eleven attributes and that attributes such as relevant professional knowledge, balanced learning habits and proactivity ranked low. Follow-up interviews with the respondents in that study revealed that the social skills consisted of shying away from confrontation with colleagues and being nice to them; conflict-avoidance and compromises were indulged in "for the sake of peace and harmony." The empirical evidence provided by McClelland (1976) also suggests that affiliative managers, in their anxiety to be liked by their subordinates, end up creating a climate of low morale and poor performance: "Affiliative managers make so many ad hominem and ad hoc decisions that they almost totally abandon orderly procedures. Their disregard for procedures leaves employees feeling weak, irresponsible, and without a sense of what might happen next, of where they stand in relation to their manager, or even of what they ought to be doing" (ibidem, page 102).

An organisation, therefore, whose managers are predominantly Inclusion-oriented runs the risk of contracting the ills, such as indicated above. High Inclusion, without commensurate Control, can engender an atmosphere of what Blake and Mouton (1980) call a country club management, whose associated costs for the organisation may not be affordable by the farmer-owned sector ever. The need to minimise costs assumes even greater urgency in the wake of the economic liberalisation, launched recently in the country, a consequence of which will be an ever-growing competition from private entrepreneurs.

Substantively similar to McClelland's results, this study has found that the Control orientation of successful managers is higher than their Inclusion. To be effective and successful, therefore, it seems imperative for the managers to improve their Control orientation. But is it possible? Going by McClelland's experience with motivation workshops, the answer would be in the affirmative. Managerial orientations can be altered by appropriate training workshops.

There are also research reports which suggest that task-related competence has a direct effect on the development of interpersonal influence (Bachman, 1968; Wall and Adams, 1974; Gabarro, 1978). Management development programmes, custom-designed to upgrade the professional competence of managers, relevant to their respective stations, can, therefore, help realign the FIRO profile of the managers so as to put them on the path to success. Such attempts can build on the managers' existing WEC (wanted-expressed control), which is very high. Workshops, suitably designed for the purpose, can advantageously convert the WEC, actualise it and bring it to fruition.

An additional finding of the present study pointed to the possible criticality of the Openness dimension for group performance. The study has revealed that the obtaining level of Openness in the interpersonal behaviour of the managers in the sector is low. A possible implication of these findings is that, even where appropriate competence/Control and Inclusion are adequate and in the right proportion, performance in tasks that involve team work would suffer a setback. In an atmosphere of low Openness, even individual performance can be adversely affected to the extent it depends on quality information (Openness) from others.

While Inclusion, in the formal organisational context, can thrive on conventionally expected or role-related surface encounters, characterised by superficialities of routine and conflict-avoiding exchanges, Openness involves trust-based mutual disclosure that enriches the relationship and enhances interpersonal reliability. While intimate interpersonal relationships in a purely social context may involve disclosures about the self, Openness in the context of managerial working relationships would refer to disclosures regarding task-related and organisational issues (Gabarro, 1978). Low Openness in the managerial context would manifest itself in failures to share with colleagues (peers, subordinates and superiors) information and ideas required to accomplish the tasks well. It may be recalled that the successful managers in the present study received more Openness from their colleagues than the unsuccessful managers did, as shown by their respective PRO scores. They also seemed to value Openness from others much more than the unsuccessful managers seemed to do, as indicated by the WRO scores.

Paucity of openness between managers and workers as well as among managers themselves was cited at the recent National HRD Conference in Bombay (January, 1994) to be an issue of major concern in Indian organisations. The findings of the present study thus appear to be relevant to other sectors, too. People do not say what they have in mind or they do not mean what they say for fear of being exploited or punished, given the differential power distribution among the employees. Lack of trust seems to be the basis of this malady.

If there exists a foundation of trust or credibility, openness and disclosure can occur even where power distributions are asymmetrical (Tedeschi, 1974). Attempts to create and sustain an atmosphere of trust in the organisation may, therefore, have to be made, in terms of structural and communication mechanisms, for interpersonal trust to commence and continue in the workplace. In an atmosphere of little or low trust, valuable resources may have to be frittered away hopelessly in endless follow-up and monitoring activities, which will further reduce trust and openness, setting off a vicious circle. Active sabotage could also be sired by distrust.

The high and positive correlation between PRC and WRC suggests that increased exposure or subjugation to external control mechanisms may in due course lead people to adaptation, inclining people to want more and more of it. Increased controls, as seen above, are likely to gnaw at the roots of trust and openness, depriving organisations of personal commitment, initiative and creativity -- qualities which no organisation can afford to sacrifice in the context of having to meet the challenges of a competitive market.

Disclosing to others (PEO) and receiving disclosures from others (PRO) correlated positively with the impact (PEC) of the managers. The successful managers scored significantly higher both on PRO and PEC. The study also found older managers to be more socialising (PEI) and more controlling (PEC), but not more open (low PEO), than younger managers. Combining these findings, one would surmise that the control the older managers wield is likely to be based on a sort of compliance in deference to their age rather than on trust and/or competence. Such controls do not seem to lead to the kind of impact which the successful managers in the study seem to have had.

Although the study found the management students to be not very different in many of their FIROs from those of the existing managers, it has discovered a few differences that may merit attention. The students are used to receiving more openness (PRO) than the managers and they also want a great deal more of it (WRO) than what the managers provide (PEO) or want to provide (WEO). This might lead to disillusionment when the two meet after placement. The women students are likely to face this even more, for their wanted-received Openness is significantly higher than that of the men students. The results of the study also show that the wanted-received Control (WRC) of the management students is very low by itself and significantly lower than what the managers are reconciled to. Too low a WRC, in general, is likely to give rise to antagonisms in socio-technical systems that organisations are. In the present case, the students' readiness to accept Control is very much lower than what is in store for them, indicated by the managers' WEC, which is extremely high. Initial friction seems to be on the cards, particularly in the case of the women students. The extent of autonomy desired by the latter (indicated by their rock-bottom WRC) seems to approximate a will-o-the-wisp, given the Control scenario in the organisations, described above.

The FIRO scenario of the managers and management students, discussed above, bears implications for management educators and trainers, too. The results of the present study have shown that academic performance is fairly independent of one's FIRO, whereas managerial performance is significantly related to one's FIRO. Management schools impart an education which provides participants with a high-quality cognitive learning, with an emphasis on concepts, logical analysis and a questioning spirit. These superior cognitive abilities, useful and important as they are, do not seem to make managers. Research, such as McClelland's, and field experiences of successful managers point to the need for making an impact on people as the hall mark of effective management, which precisely is the skill largely left unaddressed by management education. The ability to make an impact on people involves interpersonal skills: ability to relate, disclose and influence. An exclusively theoretical treatment of human-relations topics in the classroom is akin to swimming lessons delivered on dry land. Such a hands-off learning leaves the students with the mistaken and dysfunctional notion of human relations as "being nice to people" and they end up being predominantly Inclusion-oriented, as noted in this study.

Management education must, therefore, train their participants in interpersonal skills, in addition to providing them with cognitive abilities. Developing these skills may call for a pedagogy which involves role-plays, problem solving exercises in groups, real and mock sessions of negotiations, etc., wherein participants can experiment with interpersonal skills, for example, of how to influence (EC), where, when, how and how much to accept influence from others (RC) and also practise how to be appropriately open (EO) to create a trusting atmosphere that facilitates openness from others (PRO), which in this study has been found to characterise effective managers. Such give-and-take practicals (or training in Expressed and Received Control and Openness) will prepare managers who will make a difference.

Finally, a general comment on the openness scenario seems warranted. An integrative look at the data on the Openness dimension (PEO, particularly WEO, and WRO) points to a real serious problem or paradox: Expecting others to be very open with you (very high WRO), when you yourself are rather reserved (low PEO), hesitant and unwilling to be more open (low WEO), is neither noble nor realistic. "Do unto others what you would have them do unto you" may be the only route to break out of the chakravyuh: Trust and you shall be trusted! Although trust may not always elicit trust, there seems to be no other known way to develop it. "Like begets like" seems specially valid in the realm of trust.

5.5 Limitations of the Study

Methodologically, the present study adopted a cross-sectional design, which provided us with useful and important snapshots of the phenomenon under study, namely, interpersonal behaviour. Use of an alternative design, such as the multiple heuristic research design of Moustakas (1990) or a multiple integrative design, used by Zajac and Shortell (1989), could have provided a more definitive and in-depth understanding of the phenomenon. More penetrating insights could be arrived at if mediating variables, such as culture, family background, birth order, number of siblings, etc., were included. Given the modest objectives of the present study, along with considerations of cost and time, the alternative designs were not pursued.

The composition of the sample could have been more complex, with a greater within-group differentiation. The years of experience of managers could have formed a variable in lieu of age. However, recognising the natural correlation between age and experience, the study did not deem it necessary to treat it as a separate variable. The dichotomous regional classification of the sample was too inclusive, thus possibly submerging finer regional variations.

Despite these limitations, the present study has shed light on the hitherto unknown interpersonal orientation profiles of the managers and management students in the Indian cooperative dairy sector. In the process of doing so, it also brought forth additional evidence of the construct validity of the Element-B instrument. The study has also drawn attention to the need for probing into the FIRO theory's postulate of compatibility, besides paving the way for further research in the area of interpersonal relations of managers.

5.6 Suggestions for further research

Interpersonal relationships are the consequence of interactions amongst individuals and are affected by the personality and predispositions of the persons involved (Sullivan, 1953). The processes underlying the formation and development of these relationships involve different levels and types of behaviour (Huston, 1974; Triandis, 1977). Research aimed at unraveling the interpersonal relations of managers will do well, therefore, to address the conceptual and affective components of the phenomenon, in addition to the behavioural component. The theory of FIRO recognises these elements and offers instruments to measure them: Element-S for measuring self concept, Element-F for feelings and Element-B for behaviour. Researching the phenomenon with the help of all the three measures will help achieve an integrative view of interpersonal relations. Even studies, using Element-S and Element-F independently, despite being segmental, can make valuable contribution to the research domain of interpersonal relations. Such studies can also provide additional angles of vision, from which to take a re-look at the present findings, which relate solely to the behavioural level of the phenomenon.

Studies, using direct behavioural observations in a variety of naturalistic and contrived interpersonal situations (besides self-report measures), will improve the quality of data. Longitudinal studies, though very time consuming and likely to suffer from sample attrition and other time-related problems, would shed light on the developmental aspects of interpersonal relationships, which cross-sectional studies cannot capture. Studies, using experimentally varied FIRO-compatibility groups, will have additional value.

5.7 Conclusion

The manager, no matter how much s/he might seek to disengage himself/ herself from interpersonal relationships, is inexorably involved in them as part of his/her job. Even where the organisation is well structured with excellent information and control systems, managers do have to rely on interpersonal relations for effectively carrying out their responsibilities. The results of the present study have important HRD implications for the Indian cooperative dairy sector and, perhaps, also for organisations in other sectors -- as indicated by the deliberations in the 1994 Annual Conference of the National HRD Network, in Bombay. A systematic understanding of the managerial interpersonal dynamics can guide attempts at restructuring organisations and facilitate formation of effective work groups there. Management educators, too, may find the study relevant and useful: The findings can inform the syllabus makers so that the syllabus is made to cater to the ground realities prevailing in the interpersonal world of managers. Management educators and trainers would do well to validate their syllabus and pedagogy, in doing which they might find the present study useful.


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